Accept Your Feelings:
No one ever said being a teen was easy. Everything from grades to friends to family can be a lot. Coronavirus is bringing on a whole new set of challenges for teens all over the world. Teens can no longer go to school, see their friends, or even attend prom.
No matter what you’re feeling right now, go ahead and feel it. Avoiding your feelings will only prolong them. Feelings are not facts and are nothing to be ashamed of.
Control What You Can:
There are so many things in life right now out of our control. We can’t control what’s happening in the world or when things will get “back to normal.”
But we can control our thoughts and actions. If social media brings on stress, cut back on your screen time.
Or, if you’re struggling to complete an assignment, reach out to your teacher and see if there is anything they can do to help.
Say Goodbye To Perfectionism:
Social media is a fantastic way to keep in touch with friends and family all over the world. However, it can also open up the perfectionism and comparison door. Most people tend to spotlight their best moments on social media. But at the end of the day, you never know what someone else is going through. None of us are perfect.
Just because one bad thing happened today doesn’t mean the entire day is ruined. When life gets busy, we can often forget to appreciate the little things.
Here’s some homework for you. Tonight before you go to bed, take just 5 minutes to practice gratitude. What went well today? Did you have a delicious dinner? Did you discover a new TV show? Did you get a good mark on a test?
There is always something to be grateful for.
You are so much stronger than you think, and we will get through this together.Learn More
If you want your child to eat their vegetables, guess what? You have to eat your vegetables first. As a parent, what you model is 10,000 times more powerful than what you say. Want respect? Give respect. Yes, it is so much faster and easier to tell your child what to do. Yet, if you expect them to “do as you say, not as you do”, what you might actually be teaching them is how to be hypocritical.
Of course, you want to raise respectful children who become respectful teens who become respectful adults. Respectful children and teens are a joy to have around! To foster this in your child, work on offering respect to them and to others (they’ll notice), this allows you to expect it in return.
Respect Raises Self-Esteem
Being respectful to your child builds a sense of self-value and raises their self-esteem. When they feel worthy of being treated fairly, when they feel worthy of being respected, they want that for you and others around them.
Model what you want to see from them
- Say “please” and “thank you” your child will
- Keep your promises, they will learn to keep their promises
- When you are upset, yet keep your voice calm, your child will learn to do the same
A child will only give you the same level of respect you give them.
If you’re trying to navigate a problem, ask yourself, “what is it that I want to model?” You’ll find this is a great way to teach them your values and to be respectful to you and others.
As a parent, if you’re finding it difficult to model your values, or are unsure about your techniques, parenting coaching might help. If your child needs some extra help, child therapy might be the ticket. If they’re an adolescent, teen counseling might get you and them on track.
For teen counseling, Erin Manhardt is a Youth & Family therapist at Bellevue Family Counseling. Erin is passionate about working with youths who are struggling in relationships and school. Contact Erin at Bellevue Counseling in Bellevue Washington.Learn More
When your tween or teen directly expresses the thought or desire to harm them self or commit suicide, of course, it is alarming. It may seem to come out of the blue or be part of growing distress they are experiencing. Either way, when you become aware that your child or teen talks about self-harm or suicide, it is important to take some steps to ensure their safety.
If your child is a tween or a teen take it seriously. If they are younger, certainly don’t dismiss these big feelings however I’ll cover some different steps in another blog post.
How to approach talking
Understandably you may want to minimize their distressing words and help them gain perspective by telling them the situation isn’t so bad. However, instead, manage your own feelings at that moment so you don’t take over the conversation. Press “pause” on your judgment. Your job is to be present, curious and compassionate.
Do they have a plan?
Once your child has shared what they can of their distress. Ask them if they have a plan to act on their suicidal thoughts. Listen very carefully here. A child who is planning on acting will often have quite a detailed story with potential time and place. They will have most likely been running through the scenario in their head for a while so will have worked out the details. For others, they may not have let their thoughts drift over to the action piece but are still caught up in just wanting to be gone.
Can they keep themselves safe?
Ask your child if they feel they can keep themselves safe in the moment? Start to investigate what they need from themselves and from you to help keep themselves safe. Perhaps even make a list of things that will help remind them of what they need to feel safe. Help them minimize triggers to their emotional upset for at least the moment.
Based on the conversation, let them know what you are going to do to help them stay safe. Again, manage your emotions as you may feel punitive towards them as they are causing you so much distress. You are definitively the parent taking the lead in this moment however this must be a non-shaming, collaborative conversation. Let them know that you are going to make sure they are not alone for the next while and brainstorm the options. Remove objects from their easy access that may trigger them to harm themselves.
Talk about self-care. This is a moment to be a strong parent. Get the basics back in line with proper sleep, eating and physically active routines in place. Brainstorm relaxation activities. This could include some distractions like music or screens but make sure there is a broader variety such as journaling, a meditation app, drawing, snuggling the family pet and engaging with safe friends.
When to visit the hospital
If during this conversation it becomes apparent your child won’t work to keep themselves safe, it is time to decide if a visit to the hospital is prudent. You can also suggest a crisis line or even another safe adult to your child if they aren’t feeling very comfortable sharing all of this with you.
It is very easy for teens to be overwhelmed by the intensity of their emotions. The struggle to fit in socially, succeed academically, please peers, parents and other adults is quite difficult. The added pressure of fitting in the world with the watchful eye of social media has amplified these pressures.
Teen counseling can support their ability to manage the big emotions and learn skills for navigating all the social, academic and family pressures. Suggesting the idea of getting a counselor they can talk to and trust is also an important support strategy.
by Leah Koenig MA, LMHC. Leah is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Family Therapist, and PCI Certified Parent Coach®. Leah specializes in working with children, teens, and parents on creating their best self and best family relationships.Learn More